After Kodi, Plex may be the only all-in-one streaming platform you can find to use from home.
It’s simple to set up and provides a wealth of features to Plex users. Because of this, you can find Plex has quickly sat in the number two position behind Kodi.
However, on occasions, you can find you can’t connect to the internet; thus, all your movies or other content is useless.
Some of the main reasons being many homes now use a VPN, and if the Plex server is set up incorrectly, you can find access is restricted. In one way, it isn’t good, yet in another, it shows that the layers of security a VPN offers are a great way to stop third parties from accessing your home network.
No matter what, in our guide, you can learn how to set up a Plex media server so you can access your content with a VPN or not. (Read Getting Started with Kodi)
Can I Use Plex With VPN?
Plex, like Kodi, is a little more complicated and consists of two main components. The Plex Media Server, for example, sorts your media files and makes them streamable through various players. Then there’s the Plex Media Player client, which lets you stream all your media content to your preferred devices.
The media server is typically run on a Windows computer, while the player is compatible with most smartphones and smart TV and some video game consoles and set-top boxes.
If you have an extensive amount of media that you want to stream from multiple devices, Plex is an excellent choice. It’s also useful for accessing your media collection while you’re away from home via the Internet.
Why Use VPN for Plex?
You might wonder, why do I need a VPN with Plex if it can cause problems? Here are four key reasons users use a VPN when running Plex servers on their devices.
Most Internet Service Providers dislike customers who stream since it is a bandwidth hog, especially HD content. ISPs intentionally throttle bandwidth to reduce the load on their systems and discourage you from taking part in bandwidth-intensive activities.
You can avoid such issues by using a VPN for Plex, which encrypts all data sent across the Internet using AES 256-bit encryption. Your ISP can’t throttle connections as your streaming traffic is masked. (Learn How To Clear Kodi Cache On Firestick)
Plex Privacy Protection
This relates to the previous point. Your ISP can throttle your bandwidth by employing Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), which allows them to see everything you do online. As soon as they detect streaming traffic, your Internet connection is slowed down.
Besides this, there are cases where user information is sold to third parties, such as marketing forms, and if you have any copyright-protected content, you don’t want anyone to know you are streaming.
Besides watching your own movies from home, you can install Plex add-ons to extend its functionality, thus watching content from streaming services such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV, Channel 4, and many from other countries that are blocked geographically.
Using your VPN, change the VPN server to any country, and all services from there are available.
Citizens in some countries are not permitted to view certain types of content. If you are visiting such an area with such censorship, you’ll need a VPN to stream your movies from home. Your VPN will give you a VPN from your home country, and then you’ll connect to your Plex Server without issues.
How Do I Access Plex Through VPN?
Although private and encrypted connections are more popular than ever, if your Plex server connects to the web via a VPN, you might not be able to access it through the layers of security.
Here’s all you need to know about the Plex configuration to get your Plex server streaming through your VPN without sacrificing protection so that you can view your video files.
How to Route Plex.TV through VPN
It can take a few steps to start Plex.TV streaming over VPN. Here’s what you may need to do:
- Give Plex server a static IP address
- Note your Plex settings
- Enable the router for port forwarding
- Configure the VPN to allow unrestricted access to plex.tv
After that, you can interact with your private Plex server anywhere globally using the Plex app or your web browser. (Read Kodi Can’t Connect To Network Server)
This is known as selective routing, and it is a powerful networking tool to be aware of.
Setup Your Plex Server
Before you begin making changes to your network configuration, there are a few things you should do. Please note in mind that all of these steps should take place on your Plex streaming media server.
Give Plex Server a Static IP address
If you haven’t already, assign a static IP address to your Plex server. This will allow you to properly set up port forwarding and ensure that any changes to the VPN configuration work following a reboot.
- To set a static IP address, open the Control Panel on your Windows Computer.
- Click “View network status and tasks” in the Network and Internet section.
- Click “Change adapter settings” on the sidebar.
- Right-click the primary network connection for your computer and click the Properties menu item.
- Highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP 4) and select the Properties button.
- Select a static IP address for your Plex server, fill out the gateway and DNS information, then select the OK button. (Note of the IP address as you need this when you setup your VPN).
A suitable static IP address will be outside your router’s DHCP range. In most cases, they are set automatically from a pool 192.168.1.150 to 192.168.1.254. Try to use 192.168.1.100 is safe.
When a router assigns an IP address already in use on the network, a conflict occurs; therefore, before assigning a static address, double-check your router’s DHCP settings.
When choosing static DNS servers, it’s recommended to mix it up a little. You can use your internet service provider’s (ISP) DNS and then opt for a free, secure Google server at 220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168, or Cloudfare at 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.
Note Your Plex Settings
Before configuring your VPN to route Plex traffic, you must connect to Plex via the web interface and confirm your settings.
- The Plex web client can be by right-clicking the tray icon and selecting the Open Plex option in the context menu.
- In Plex, go to the left sidebar and select the Settings link.
- Select the Remote Access icon.
- Note your remote access port for your Plex; this will couple with your static IP address to setup your router. Most times, it is port 32400.
Now your Plex server has a static IP address, a VPNs OpenVPN is installed, and you’re certain of the port settings, you can configure your local network.
Set Up Your Local Network
Now you need to tell your router where to get incoming Plex connections from. In this case, it is the static IP address of your Plex server.
Enable Port Forwarding
- Connect to the web interface of your router and log in with your username and password.
- Once you’ve logged in, look for the settings for port forwarding.
- Once you find the port forwarding settings for your router, use your Plex server details to fill in the boxes.
- Application Name: It doesn’t do anything in the config, so call it Plex.
- External Port: Here, it tells the router where to look for Plex traffic. It can be set to anything apart from reserved numbers. It’s convenient to use 32401.
- Internal Port: It is this that tells your router where to forward Plex traffic on the LAN. You noted this earlier, and it should be 32400, which is the default.
- Protocol: This dictates the kind of connection traffic it will route. Set it to ‘TCP’ or ‘Both,’ but only TCP will be required.
- Device IP: This will identify your Plex server’s route coming from the static IP address. You also noted this earlier while setting up your Plex server.
- The Enabled check box means you can turn port forwarding for Plex on and off. Ensure you set it to on.
- Click the OK button and exit to reboot your router with the new settings for VPN for Plex.
Can’t Connect to Plex server When VPN is On?
If your Plex app can’t get connected to your Plex Media Server, ensure:
- You have the current version of the Plex Media Server. (Check the Downloads page for the latest version.)
- You’ve signed into your Plex Media Server correctly using your Plex details
- Your app is signed in and connected to your account
- Ensure you have the right version of Plex Media Server installed, and Plex Media Server is running
- Verify your Server is listed on your Devices page
- Disable your VPN service on your computer or router
- Disable proxies on your computer or home router
Once you’ve checked those:
- Sign out of your Plex account on the app and Plex Media Server
- Sign in to your Plex Server account
- Sign in to your plex App account
- Based on whether the app is local or remote to your Server, check other things.
Does VPN Slow Down Plex?
A VPN can be useful in a variety of situations, but it also has shortcomings. One of the issues with using a VPN with Plex is the problem of fetching content while streaming. It seeks to route data through the VPN IP address rather than your primary IP address. You can, however, readily avoid this problem.
A VPN can slow access a little, yet premium VPNs offer unlimited bandwidth and the fastest possible speeds to avoid buffering since you are only streaming.
A free VPN service isn’t an option as they don’t offer unlimited bandwidth. The other thing with a premium VPN, they use OpenVPN or their own newer protocol for faster speeds.
So, as fast as your connection is and how fast you can upload content from your Plex server, the top VPNs will route this with OpenVPN at the fastest possible speed.
To get your Plex VPN bypass and access your plex media server behind a VPN only takes a few steps. To access VPN using Plex, you’ve got two options. (Learn How to Disable VPN on Windows 10)
Just ensure on your router, the port is forwarded to ‘32400’, which is an identical internal port as your Plex Server.
You can also remotely access Plex using a VPN and the following steps:
- Download your chosen VPN software
- Install the VPN on your system
- You can also download the OpenVPN config file from your VPN provider’s website (OpenVPN is the best protocol to deal with this)
- Load the OpenVPN config files to VPN software, and your VPN
- Configure your router for port forwarding on your Windows machine
- Assign another port for Plex through the server settings
- Once you do this, you should see a green checkmark under Plex Remote Access VPN settings.